Ava slowly crept out from under the bed in Richard’s room.
Strangers had been in the house, smelling of ozone and metal. They’d taken Rain away.
She slowly nosed the door open, smelling the air. The men were gone too, and from the way Pallas’s human had said goodbye, they weren’t coming back.
The pack was alone.
The other dogs were creeping out from where they’d been hiding. Pallas was carrying a scrap of fabric in her teeth. When Bobby tried to sniff it, the poodle growled so furiously that the boarder collie yipped and backed away into the wall, tail tucked.
“What happened?” Baby asked, crouched low to the floor, shaking. “Where’s Rain?”
“Gone. She was taken by the strangers.” Berwald growled. The German Shepard shook himself, hopping from one front paw to another. “Alpha, we should leave now. Rain is gone, and the house is empty. We will never have a better chance to run.” At this the pack burst in a flurry of barks and howls. Ava ignored them, sniffing the ground. She could smell the men, and the under lying sense of fear. They thought they were going to be hunted. She shook her tail. Well if it was hunt they wanted, a hunt they would receive.
“We are leaving.” Her announcement quieted the rest of her pack. Norma jumped off the table, where she’d been lying.
“Where are we going to go, Ava? Where can we go?” The little corgi demanded.
Ava turned and bounded over to the door, energy suddenly filling her. She clawed it open, uncaring of the way her claws scratched the door. There was no need for secrecy now.
It opened and a fading light filled the hallway. It would be sunset soon, all the better for them.
“We’re going to go after the men!” She crowed. “We’re going to rejoin with them. They are our humans now.”
Pallas dropped the fabric she’d been clutching. Ava now realized it was a piece of one of shirts that the small, sickly, Robespierre had worn.
“The men? My human?” She demanded. Ava shook herself in excitement, tail going faster.
“Yes. We leave at sunset. Everyone should eat. Norma, use the food maker.” She ordered. Ava turned to face the sun, the wind blowing the scent of many animals, humans, things, over her. Out there somewhere, she could feel the pull of her human, of Richard.
‘I’ll find you. And then we’ll run.’